The Binghamton University women’s soccer team shut out University of Maryland, Baltimore County 2-0 on Sunday, and with a little bit of help, clinched a berth to the America East 2011 Women’s Soccer Championship for the seventh time in the past eight years.
Prior to the game’s start, a ceremony was held honoring the team’s seniors, Taylor Kucharski, AnnMarie Rizzi, Mary DeWitte and Jennifer Abbate. But the match presented more than just one way to pay homage to the squad’s seniors; with a win over the Retrievers (0-14-3, 0-6-2 AE), the Bearcats (6-9-1, 3-4-1 AE) would put themselves into a position to clinch a playoff spot.
“Our last two games, we showed a lot of passion,” BU head coach Sarah McClellan said. “Our players came out to play hard and committed. It’s something we need to bring forth in every game from now on.”
At the start of the game the team came out with energy. Junior forward Candice Rowland shot on goal three minutes into the game, but the shot was saved by UMBC goalie Lauren Kadet. Binghamton held possession for the majority of the first half and, according to McClellan, controlled play throughout the match’s full 90 minutes.
“I’m very proud of how we played as a team today,” McClellan said. “Our team took care of business. We had the game in hand from start to finish.”
DeWitte scored the first goal of the day for BU with 22:10 remaining in the first half. Rizzi chipped the ball to Dewitte, who dribbled around the goalkeeper and scored.
With 4:30 left on the clock in the first half, sophomore Conor O’Brien scored an unassisted goal for the Bearcats only three minutes after being subbed into game. DeWitte’s shot was deflected by a UMBC defender, but O’Brien, charging forward, quickly gained possession and rocketed a shot into the lower left corner of the net, giving Binghamton a two-goal lead.
O’Brien was named America East Player of the Week for her performance.
The first opportunity for UMBC to score came with less than a minute to go in the first half, but BU sophomore goalkeeper Carrie Martin was ready for the challenge as she charged a dribbling Retriever and blocked her shot. The ball ricocheted before Martin could capture it, however, landing in front of UMBC forward Amy Savage. She tried to net a solid shot, but Martin made the save.
In the second half, Binghamton took four shots, two of which were on goal. Rowland had a breakaway within the first five minutes of the half, and then, five minutes later, Kucharski shot on net only to have the ball hit the crossbar, denying another Binghamton goal.
UMBC’s best chance came when a cross from Savage skimmed the crossbar and landed on the far side of the net. The Retrievers were otherwise unable to effectively break the Binghamton defensive line as the Bearcats sailed to a 2-0 victory on Senior Day.
“Our senior class, their past four years have really helped to shape our program,” McClellan said. “Their legacy will live on.”
Though the group is set to graduate come May, according to Dewitte they are proud of their success this season.
“It’s sad, but we’ve had a good season,” she said.
Having defeated UMBC, the Bearcats were in need of a loss or draw from Stony Brook University or University of New Hampshire in their respective Sunday matches.
And luckily for BU, Stony Brook fell to University at Albany 2-1, lifting Binghamton into a playoff spot.
Leaping into the postseason, the Bearcats are set to visit UNH (5-11, 3-4-1 AE) in the tournament’s quarterfinals on Thursday.
In the two teams’ only meeting this season in New Hampshire, the Wildcats used a 54th-minute penalty kick to power themselves to a 2-1 win.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Thursday at UNH’s Bremner Field.